Sick of Slow Wi-Fi? MIT Researchers Have a Solution

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Researchers think they have the answer to boosting the snail-speed Wi-Fi you typically experience at airports, big concerts or sporting events.

Have you ever tried to send a text or make a phone call from a large sports stadium, big concert or large conference hall? If so, you know it can be incredibly frustrating. At best, you’re often working with a snail-speed connection. At worst, you can’t connect at all.

A group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory think they’ve found a solution that can significantly improve Wi-Fi performance.

But to appreciate the MIT team’s solution, you have to first understand the problem. According to Forbes:

WiFi signals interfere with each other because there isn’t enough bandwidth on the wireless spectrum to handle all the traffic from the cellphones that are trying to use the spectrum at the same time. Solving the problem isn’t easy because there’s no obvious way for existing wireless systems to adapt to high load conditions in order to make more efficient use of the available bandwidth.

The team’s published paper describes an approach dubbed MegaMIMO 2.0 — MIMO stands for “multiple input, multiple output” — which more effectively coordinates multiple wireless transmitters so they can send data over the same wireless channel with less interference.

Tests of the system revealed transfer speeds 3.3 times faster than the norm. But lead paper author Ezzeldin Hamed says that if the team had performed tests with additional routers, data could have been transmitted up to 10 times as fast as the typical speed, according to CNN Money.

Sachin Katti, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University who was not involved in the research, says in a statement:

This work offers a completely new way to deliver WiFi in campuses and enterprises. Whereas current solutions often have slow, spotty performance, this technology has the potential to deliver high-capacity connectivity to each and every user.

CNN Money says the researchers have been in talks with companies about the potential for commercializing the MegaMIMO 2.0 technology.

Where do you experience slow Wi-Fi? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.

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